There is sharp specialization in the notebook world as some machines are oriented at on-the-run work and others at replacing desktop PCs.
Each category of notebooks has its advantages and shortcomings, of course, and today we will try to find the pros and cons of two representatives of the well-established class of office portable computers.
Endowed with all the necessary functionality, these notebooks can make a good substitute for a desktop PC (although they are not desknotes proper). They are the Acer TravelMate 803 LCi and ASUS M6B00N.
Design and Ergonomics: Acer TravelMate 803 LCi
The color scheme of the Acer TravelMate 803 LCi uses a combination of gray and silvery colors. With its smooth lines, rounded corners and relief plastic, the notebook looks like a fragile child toy.
The lid opened, you see a round power-on button and four quick launch buttons. They are located to the right, near the screen hinges. One quick button launches your e-mail client, another starts up the Internet browser, and two more buttons are user-defined.
The opening of the integrated microphone is found at the center, so this portable computer can be used as a dictaphone to record sound.
There are two groups of indicators of the system’s status. One is above the keyboard, on the right, and consists of a hard disk drive activity LED, Num Lock and Caps Lock indicators. They are highlighted with green. The second group is located at the front panel, and this is very handy since the LEDs can be seen whether the notebook’s lid is opened or closed. This group consists of a power indicator (green when power is attached), a battery charge indicator (green when the battery is fully charged and orange when it is being recharged), an InviLink WLAN connection indicator (it lights up when the integrated adapter sends or receives data packets), and a Bluetooth connection indicator (it goes alive when this connection is active).
The keyboard of the TravelMate 803 LCi is bow-shaped; a frame goes around it and smoothes up the sharp corners. The keys have the normal size, only the top row of functional keys are small. A block of numeric keys and two Windows buttons are available. The cursor keys are somewhat less handy as the arrow right/left buttons are small, and there are PgUp/Home and PgDn/End buttons at the sides to be accidentally pressed on. With this minor inconveniency, the keyboard is overall usable and ergonomic.
The touchpad of this notebook is designed in the same manner as the keyboard, with a frame and rounded corners. Besides two standard keys that replace the mouse’s right and left buttons, there is also a four-position joystick for vertical and horizontal scrolling.
The 15” screen has a maximum resolution of 1400x1050; it is rather bright, with good color reproduction and viewing angles. Brightness is adjusted with functional keys, in a rather small range. Setting the screen brightness to the minimum, you can read text in full darkness without any discomfort.
Beside the spring latch of the display, the front panel of the notebook contains a Bluetooth connection button, a button for activating the InviLink WLAN, an IrDA port and two stereo speakers.